On the second leg of his nationwide "Listen to the People" tour, John Major travelled to Scotland yesterday and told the Scots he would ignore them.
In a series of receptions and meetings with party activists, Mr Major said that although most Scots, including one in four Tories, supported devolution, he would not back plans to set up a Scottish parliament.
Mr Major said he "understood" why Scots wanted an Edinburgh assembly to administer their own affairs. "I see the attraction of it ... I understand that Westminster looks a very long way away." But, he said, "I have to look at what the price will be, what it will mean for Scotland and the rest of the UK".
A Scottish parliament with the power to raise income tax, which Tony Blair has pledged to create, would reduce Scotland's prosperity, he said. Mr Blair's new regressive "tartan tax" would cost Scottish families an extra pounds 6 a week and scare off investors. The "mischief-making" Scottish National Party would exploit the tensions between an Edinburgh assembly and Westminster, strengthening their independence campaign.
Labour's plans, which include a system of proportional representation for elections to a Scottish parliament, were, Mr Major added, "alien" to Britain.The party's constitutional reform plans were "shambolic ... and loopy ... The only thing I would do with them is pick them up, tear them up, and drop them in the bin. That is where they should be."
Mr Major's decision to ignore the majority of Scots who support constitutional change, was mirrored by many people living in St Andrews, where he began his Scottish tour. All but a handful of residents chose to ignore the Prime Minister, opting to go shopping or to watch a matinee of Mel Gibson's Scots nationalist film Braveheart.
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